CORONA UPDATE OCTOBER 2021
It has been a while that I followed the corona updates. Like everyone else, I am just tired of it all. But since many measures were lifted recently, I wanted to know what the current status was.
I have gathered a lot of info about the Netherlands and translated it into English; about education, event venues, number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, vaccine status, the economy and much more. This has resulted in the below October update.
Slowly we are moving into the right direction. Since September 25th, many measures have been lifted.
For education this means that all types of schools and childcare are open.
Previous measures like wearing face masks and keeping distance are not needed anymore. When a student tests positive, only a small group of close contacts and not anymore the entire class need to quarantine.
Some primary schools still have staggered drop-off and pick-up times, and still limit the number of parents entering the school. Ask your school for their latest policies.
Students and staff at secondary schools and higher education are recommended to perform a (free) self-test twice per week. The schools receive these tests from the government.
This recommendation doesn’t apply to people who have been fully vaccinated or recently recovered.
The building managers must take hygiene precautions, for example providing disinfectant hand gel and hand-washing facilities. The national government has budgeted € 360 million to improve the ventilation of schools.
Through the national recovery program for education, preschools, primary and secondary schools get in total € 5.8 billion extra money from the Ministry of Education to overcome the delays and other issues caused by Corona. Schools with a high percentage of vulnerable pupils will get some more.
An additional € 2.7 billion has been reserved for the universities and schools for professional education.
Other areas (outside of education):
The government advises to ‘Work from home if you can, and go to the office if you must’. You’ll see that the streets have gotten busier again as a result, and many people have found a new balance between working from home and at the office.
All types of events are permitted, but certain conditions still apply.
Social distancing is not needed anymore and there is no maximum group size anymore. At venues where people get assigned seats, they are allowed to use 100% of their capacity. Without fixed seats, 75% can be used.
All indoor places that sell food and/or drinks, have to be closed between midnight and 6 am.
When you are aged 13 or over and want to enter a café, restaurant, hotel, theater, cinema, concert hall, sports canteen, festival, or a professional sports game, you will have to show your QR-code in the CoronaCheck app on your phone, or in printed form. You can generate this code once you have been fully vaccinated, recently recovered or tested negative less than 24 hours prior. The person checking your QR-code cannot see which of the three conditions apply in your case. You can get tested for free through one of the Testen voor Toegang locations.
In more and more cities you can get a wrist band when showing your QR-code at one location, and then you may visit as many other places as you can manage within 24 hours.
At places like a terrace, store, library, church, holiday accommodation, take-out restaurant, public transport, or a museum you don’t need to show your QR.
An independent judge has recently ruled that the Dutch coronavirus pass system is not discriminatory or against the law.
People who have been vaccinated in another EU country, need to show their EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) to be able to enter a venue in the Netherlands.
For people who have been vaccinated outside of the EU (including the UK), the situation is a bit more complicated, unfortunately. They first need to register their non-EU vaccines in Utrecht, through phone number 030 – 8002899. Or get tested before entering.
It is unclear how many people have been disadvantaged through this, and hopefully the EU will find a solution soon.
In the Netherlands, face masks must be worn by everyone aged 13 and over in public transport and other passenger transport, at train stations and bus stops, on airplanes, and at airports. It may be almost any type of mask and doesn’t need to be an official FFP.
Many hospitals and other places where sick and vulnerable people go, also require their visitors to wear a mask.
When you have been fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine anymore upon your arrival in the Netherlands.
PCR tests for travel are no longer free.
There is also good news: the Netherlands has been downgraded from red to orange on the European coronavirus map.
The statistics – Status 5 October:
Population Netherlands: 17,535,520 (August 2021).
All daily developments you can find in the national Corona Dashboard.
Daily average of positive cases over the past week: 1,717. The Delta variant is almost for 100% responsible for these positive tests. Trend: going up over the past days (1,932 in the past day). The actual number of cases is likely to be much higher than the number of confirmed cases – this is due to limited testing, especially in the beginning of the pandemic.
The Dutch corona measures are mainly aimed at reducing the pressure on the health care system, and at protecting the elderly and vulnerable people..
Daily average of hospitalizations over the past week: 38. Trend: going up over the past days (74 in the past day).
Total of hospital beds occupied by Covid patients (excl. ICU beds): 351. Trend: going up over the past days (was 326).
Total of ICU beds occupied by Covid patients: 132. This is 16.6% of all ICU beds. Trend: going up over the past days (was 128). Most patients at the ICUs are 70-79 years of age, and this group is growing.
On average, a Covid patient occupies an ICU bed for 3-4 weeks.
A vast majority of the current ICU patients is unvaccinated. About 10 percent of the ICU patients is fully vaccinated, but in most cases these patients already suffered from another condition before contracting Covid.
For this reason, a specific group of people with a severe immune system disorder can get a third COVID-19 vaccine dose. This will benefit an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 patients aged 12 and over.
Total number of deaths with confirmed Covid: 18,191.
Current daily average: 7 deaths. Trend: going up over the past days. Note: There is often a delay in reporting the deceased.
43.1% of the people who have died of Covid was between 80 and 89 years old. This age group forms 4% of the Dutch population. The 2nd biggest group is 70-79 years old: 25.4% of all Covid deaths and 9.2% of the population.
Excess mortality: the number of deaths from all causes during a crisis above and beyond what we would have expected to see under ‘normal’ conditions.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, in most weeks, more people died compered to the same weeks in previous years. The peak was in the week of March 30th, 2020: 5085 deaths vs. 3024 under ‘normal’ circumstances. Currently, the excess mortality is about 200 people per week.
Reproduction number R (indicator of the contagiousness or transmissibility of the virus): 0.96. Trend: going up.
The absolute peak was on 1 July 2021: R = 2.91.
Number of vaccine doses administered in total: 23,667,267.
Four vaccines have been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in the Netherlands: Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), and Oxford/AstraZeneca. Most vaccines which are currently administered have been produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, followed by Janssen.
82.4% of the population aged 18+ has been fully vaccinated, and 86.3% got their first shot. Trend: going up by 18,101 shots per day.
Age groups with highest vaccine percentage: 71-80 (92%).
Ages 18 – 30: 65% has been fully vaccinated.
Ages 12 – 17: 51% (since the beginning of July).
Currently, roughly 1.8 million people haven’t been vaccinated (yet), for various reasons. A relatively lower turnout is found in municipalities in the ‘Bible belt’ and in a number of large cities.
About 1 out of 5 people still has Covid symptoms after 4 to 5 weeks after testing positive. For some, these symptoms even last for months.
Most common symptoms are chronic tiredness, concentration issues, shortness of breath, long-term loss of smell and/or taste, depressions, brain fog, and muscle pain. For many of these people this has a serious impact on their work and overall wellbeing.
Surprisingly, only 5% of the people with long Covid symptoms who took part in the RIVM-study about LongCOVID reported to have been admitted at the hospital. All others just had mild symptoms and stayed at home.
Even more surprisingly, many of these people are still young and reported to be healthy before their positive Covid test. About one quarter of all respondents aged 16-25, still reported symptoms after three months.
Because of the pandemic, and the strain this has put on the health care workings for such a long time, less than half of the hospitals in the Netherlands can still provide the care to all their patients which is needed to prevent further health damage. Since March 2020, this had lead to 1.1 million fewer outpatient clinic visits and 230 fewer surgeries than needed to provide proper care. It will take a long time for hospitals to catch up, and many patients have already suffered the consequences.
The outgoing Cabinet has divided € 720 million in bonuses over the health care workers who have delivered exceptional achievements during the pandemic. The decisions for a more structural salary raise has been postponed to the new Cabinet (whenever that may be).
Despite the crisis and the lockdowns, the Dutch economy is doing well. This year, economists have estimated a growth of 4.2%, and next year by 3.7%. They further expect that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will soon be higher than the value before the start of the crisis, and that most business sectors will have fully recovered by 2022. Especially the international trade sector is growing at the moment.
In July 2021, 289 thousand people were unemployed, which is 3.1% of the labor force. This number has been declining over the past three months.
A good source of information in English about the corona measures and other news is the (unofficial) NOS in English Facebook page.